7 Tips To Design An Impactful Serious Game Experience

How To Develop A Serious Game To Enhance The Learning Experience
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Summary: Ready to bring serious games into your employee training program? Here are 7 tips to develop a serious game that will transform their skills.

How To Develop A Serious Game To Enhance The Learning Experience

The benefits of incorporating serious games into your employee training program are undeniable. From enhanced knowledge retention to increased productivity and efficiency, there is no reason why you wouldn't want to try it out. However, enjoying these perks requires you to develop serious games of high quality. Since this can be a very challenging task, especially if you've never done it before, we have gathered 7 tips that will help you create the serious gaming experience that your employees need.

6+1 Essential Steps To Develop An Impactful Serious Game

1. Define Your Goals

What differentiates serious games from ordinary video games is that their purpose is to educate rather than entertain. Therefore, the step that should kick off the process of designing a serious game needs to be figuring out what you're trying to accomplish with it. Sure, you want to help your employees acquire or develop a certain set of skills, but what are the details? Are you creating a game for sales training, project management, compliance, onboarding, etc.? Making this decision early on ensures you stay on track during the development process and create a learning experience that is genuinely valuable and doesn't waste your employees' time.

2. Map Out The Game

A lot of planning goes into the development of a serious game, as it is a rather costly process that the Instructional Design team must get as right as possible on the first try. Consequently, long hours need to be dedicated to planning out the features of the game and, specifically, eLearning characters, storylines, scenarios, and more. We can only share a few tips here, as these decisions depend on your preferences and learning needs.

Starting with the characters, they must be memorable and relatable. Besides, they will be your employees' extensions throughout the learning process. Make sure to create a large variety of avatars that cover all ages, genders, and backgrounds. This ensures a sense of inclusivity and makes it more possible for your employees to relate to the serious game and commit to its completion. Consider adding personality traits that relate to the real-life soft skills your employees need to exhibit to be efficient in their everyday tasks.

Your next order of business is developing a compelling narrative. You can take any direction here, as long as you keep it interactive and organized. Usually, a storyboard that tracks different scenarios and how those branch out depending on the actions of the players. It's best for your script to simulate real-world situations so that your employees can gain practical knowledge that immediately transfers to their everyday lives and quickly develops their problem-solving skills.

3. Figure Out The Game Mechanics

Once you have the general plan in mind, it's time to get into the specifics of the gameplay. This includes the animation style you're going to follow, the rules of the game, and the specific actions that will move the story forward. You must also decide on the rewards and incentives you will incorporate into the game, as you can't expect the story alone to motivate your employees. Some common gamification features that promote engagement include leaderboards, badges, and unlocking extra content. This last feature, especially, can help you differentiate the various levels of information your employees will get. Experts can complete difficult levels or tasks to get to more niche information, while employees with less experience can stick to storylines that train them on basic skills.

4. Select An eLearning Authoring Tool

Now that the planning steps have been completed, you're ready to pick the eLearning authoring tools that will actually design and develop your serious game. Often, authoring tools come with their own set of templates and ready-to-use materials to make the development process easier for you. The great variety that they offer will certainly allow you to find options that match the design choices you have made in the previous two steps. Just stay in contact with your development team to make sure you're making the necessary adjustments to remain loyal to the original concept you had in mind.

5. Test The Waters With A Prototype

You might be tempted to immediately deploy your serious game once you have completed its development. However, that wouldn't be the best course of action, as you will end up exposing your employees to a less-than-perfect version of the serious game. What you should do instead is create a learner prototype to test on a small number of users. They will comb through all the stages of the game and report on how operational and effective they are. This process will allow you to iron out any issues, glitches, or omissions that occurred during development and make meaningful changes that will optimize the learning experience.

6. Ensure The Success Of The Serious Game

An essential tip to remember when developing a serious game for your organization is that testing is not a one-and-done process. Quite the opposite; if you want your serious game to produce impactful results, there must be ongoing testing and evaluation of its effectiveness. You can gather this valuable data by embedding pre- and post-game assessments and surveys or sprinkling feedback checks on various stages of the game. The information you gather from your employees will play a great part in determining whether the serious game is accomplishing the learning objectives you set in the first step. If you notice something of the sort, you can quickly adjust the activities and tweak the design to get the desired results.

Optional But Recommended: Localize

Depending on the needs of your organization, this might be a step that you choose to skip. But if your company employs people with different first languages, has branches in more than one country, or has plans to scale up in the future, localizing your serious game might be a step in the right direction. Choose which languages you want to translate the main language of the game into and collaborate with a team of experts who will take care of the localization process so that all cultural differences are accounted for. This process ensures that the serious game you have developed is inclusive and that you will be able to implement it no matter how much your company grows or changes in the future.


Serious games can breathe new life into your organization's corporate training program. Their ability to engage employees in the learning process and give them new tools to achieve knowledge acquisition and retention are turning them into a staple of employee training. In this article, we discussed the steps you need to follow when developing a serious game to make sure that you offer your employees an impactful gaming experience that adds value to their learning journey. Make sure to follow them and adjust them to your workforce's requirements to unlock their maximum potential.